Sierra Leone “Blood Diamond” Conflict
Many of the world’s major conflicts arise from the want or need for resources, but the extent to which these resources are responsible for such conflicts, tends to be misunderstood. Conflicts may arise with first a dispute on who gets control over what resources, but followed by other factors adding up to contribute to the said conflict, including, corrupt leaders, religion, debt ect. When this is the case, it becomes confusing on what aspects are responsible for specific conflicts. Resource conflicts are a common occurrence in many African countries, as Africa is a continent with a surplus of natural resources and minerals, that the rest of the world wants control over. A collection of issues arose in Sierra Leone, thus starting a civil war. The diamond mining industry in Sierra Leone makes for half of their exports contributing greatly to their yearly income, although this annual income is minimal. Diamonds in Sierra Leone have paid for weaponry, which has contributed to warfare, they have added to the country’s corruption and have affected the international world, causing several interventions. Therefore, diamonds are greatly responsible for the conflict in Sierra Leone.
The trade of “Blood diamonds” fuelled Sierra Leone’s civil war from 1991 through to 2002, as these diamonds were paying for weaponry. The civil war occurred because the rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) tried to overthrow the government so they could gain ownership and profit from the precious diamonds. The RUF would traumatize diamond-mining villages, in order to get hold of as many diamonds as they possibly could. They would abuse workers, chopping of limbs if they refused to give up their diamonds, or if they had none in their possession. In April 1998 Ibrahim Fofana, was working in a diamond mine in Eastern Sierra Leone, an area where over 75% of the nation’s diamonds are mined, when the RUF attacked his village, demanding diamonds. When Ibrahim told them he had none in his possession, they hacked off both of his hands, and killed his neighbour, as he too had nothing to hand over (The African Conflict). Such situations became common in Sierra Leone, and over 10,000 people experienced limbs being chopped off, needing amputation as they had no diamonds in their possession. On the occasions where the RUF were able to get hold of the diamonds from the villages and mines, they would illegally trade them in order to get hold of all sorts of guns and weaponry, so they could do more damage. The more weaponry they had, the more of a blood bath Sierra Leone became. When their amount of weaponry increased, they would recruit and drug small boys and send them off as child soldiers, with AK47 assault rifles in their innocent hands. These young boys would be manipulated and forced to join these rebel groups to fight for this corrupt cause. However, both sides used child soldiers in this battle. The UN estimates that a quarter of the soldiers fighting for Sierra Leone’s government forces, are children under the age of 18 (Shah). It is also likely that the diamonds, also funded the arms of the government forces, and though these funds may have not been as illegally retrieved, they were still supported by the horrific “Blood Diamond” situation. The illegal diamond trading industry the RUF had in place, was more than enough to sustain their militarily and future ambitions, due to the fact that annually, it provided them with at least $25 million to $125 million per year (UN Report). Therefore, the quantity of diamonds and the diamonds themselves, contribute substantially to warfare in Sierra Leone as they make up the funds for the weaponry, which caused the civil war to spread over a longer period of time.
The diamonds in Sierra Leone have caused corruption to escalate. This problem arose in 1968 when Sikia Stevens became prime minister and took advantage of how...
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